Your Definitive Guide To a Happy Sober Holiday Season – Tools And Tips

desk with holiday items to show that you have to plan to have a successful sober holiday

Your Definitive Guide To a Happy Sober Holiday Season – Tools And Tips

Welcome to the Tools and Techniques Entry. So far, you’ve reviewed your current status of recovery in general, and you’ve assessed your upcoming holiday specifically. Today we’ll build a list of tools and techniques that can help you curate a holiday season that you enjoy free of the substances and behaviors you are avoiding.

Tools For a Sober Holiday

  1. “No, thank you” is adequate and sufficient. You’ll likely be offered a drink this holiday season. It’s a common temptation for persons in early recovery to continuing talking past “no, thank you.” Please consider not talking past that. There are millions of people who don’t drink; none of them must explain themselves. Neither do you. I’ve found that most people who pursue or pressure you beyond that have their own issues with alcohol. See What is Normal Drinking. You are not obligated (and you shouldn’t) interact with that. It’s wrong and awkward to expect a person to accept alcohol once they’ve declined. Let the person own their issues, you be confident in your “no, thank you.”
  2. Review and revise traditions. In the work you did for the first and second entry, you identified traditions that challenge your sobriety and traditions that benefit your sobriety. Get specific with your holiday season and work with the people closest to you. Which traditions that are most risky can you eliminate? Be honest – make sure you are not operating in a defense mechanism zone. If you legitimately can’t eliminate the tradition, how can you modify it to reduce risk?
  3. Consider creating or adding new traditions. Building a rich sobriety includes adding habits that are brain beneficial (such as service, gratitude, laughter). You may want to attend a community event, a religious/spiritual event, bake cookies, visit a skilled nursing facility, find a neighborhood known for Holiday decorations and walk/drive through, go to a holiday pop up market, or attend a holiday performance.
  4. Be selective – Review your holiday schedule carefully. Be selective about your people, pace, and settings. Own your time and carefully decide how you are going to spend your holiday hours to minimize stress to your recovery.
  5. Increase joy, increase savoring – Find ways, large and small, to increase moments of joy, laughter and fun. These are fun for the obvious reasons, but they are also beneficial from a brain health standpoint. This progresses health and patterns the brain on a recovery map vs. the relapsing brain detailed in the first entry in the series.
  6. Use the holidays as ways to further recovery. If you are working a 12-Step program, for example, speak with your sponsor about working any 9th steps during this time when you are in contact with family members and friends.
  7. Have outs available – (and be willing to use them) – The outs can include leaving but they can also be smaller such as a text, phone call, Facetime, Zoom, or Skype.
  8. Be consistent with everyday habits such as meditation, exercise, prayer.
  9. Be aware of and practice tools such as in the moment meditations and “urge surfing”.

In general, continue as many of your daily, weekly, and regular recovery habits as possible during “The Holidays.” Moving into this season after a thorough and honest self-assessment, a review of your specific situation, and a full recovery tool box, you can look to the next 2 months with confidence and open to moments of joy and celebration.

holiday decor to reinforce the idea that you need to be intentional to have a fun and healthy sober holiday

One thought on “Your Definitive Guide To a Happy Sober Holiday Season – Tools And Tips”

  1. Sharon Heritch says:

    This actually sounds a lot like the suggestions in the book Unplug the Christmas Machine by Jo Robinson. She wrote it to help women overwhelmed by the expectations, materialism and rush of the holidays.

    Clarify what you want, then eliminate things that don’t serve that.

    I used to lead one of our AP meetings on this topic every year. 🙂

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